Gentrification in Pilsen


There are many signs that Pilsen is undergoing change.

For example, the neon orange sign on the new Dunkin Donuts, or the very popular Giordano’s Pizza that was recently built.

Then contrasting images on local churches that read, “Pilsen is not for sale, all signs that portray the tension throughout the community.

The term gentrification, the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods, seemed to have rung a bell through many people’s mind.

Most have been either affected, or know someone who has. However not all 36,000 residents see gentrification has a bad thing for their community.

“I remember when I was younger I couldn’t come this far … but there were boundaries like we know if we didn’t know that area then we couldn’t go,” said Frank Gallegos, 53, a worker at the Harrison Park Field House.

The term gentrification, the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods, has sparked controversy in Pilsen.

Pilsen, bounded by 16th Street on the north and Cermak Road on the south has been home to immigrants for many years. In the late 19th century, the wave of Eastern European immigrants that then led into the Latino.

The affluent population is now pushing out families that have lived in Pilsen for all their lives. Rent for many residents 10 years ago was around $500 now it has risen to an average of $750 a month.

“To fight the change that means you have to buy the property, to buy the property that means you have to be in the economic bracket that’s moving in. So it would be really difficult to fight the change that’s happening because it’s kind of out of our control.” said Gilberto Sandoval, 22 a tour guide at National Museum of Mexican Art.

For some however, gentrification has been good for Latino traditions.

“ When I first started working here [National Museum of Mexican Art] Day of the Dead and all those big Mexican Holidays weren’t all that celebrated and now it has become a big thing” Said Ariana Porras, 29, Museum worker.

Gallegos believes some gentrification is a good thing because it brings many different cultures.

“ I think that every neighborhood in Chicago is being gentrified… people want to explore different cultures,” Gallegos said. “I can’t say they’re pushing us out I say they’re teaching us.”

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